Happy 40th anniversary to Natalie Babbitt and the brilliant Tuck Everlasting! I can still remember the impact this book had on my 6th grade class when we read it for the first time. After years of school and piles and piles of books, there are only a few titles that really stick with you, aren’t there? So it’s nice to see that Tuck has touched so many and will continue to do so.
In the spirit of the book’s anniversary, the folks at Macmillan have asked us to mull over the following question:
What if you could live forever?
At first glance, the prospect of living forever sounds so attractive. The thought of no longer existing is frightening and avoiding that kind of unknown might seem like an appealing alternative but what happens when all the people you love continue to leave you — over and over again? It’s the kind of heartbreak no one would wish on themselves.
There’s something about a finish line. Even if we don’t have an exact date and time, limitations are important. It’s easy to put things off until the next day when there’s no urgency. We do it all the time in our daily lives, but imagine not having that kind of boundary ever. Could an overabundance of lifetimes make us less motivated? Less focused?
So man of those inspirational quotes we hear time and time again are about the shortness of life, how we must live for today because the future is never a sure thing. Not everyone takes this to heart. We all know that life comes to an end eventually but that doesn’t change the fact that some people are motivated to make the most of it and others are not. In fact, I find that instead of wishing for a life that goes on forever, I’m hoping for the wonderful days to stretch a little bit longer and for a little more ease when it comes to planning time with family and friends.
Would it be nice to see my future kids grow up to be grandparents or see if we ever ride hovercrafts to work? If newspapers and print media stick around or what the next best thing is after the internet? A small selfish part of me wishes I could experience it all (or pop in whenever I feel like it) but I’m okay knowing that I won’t.
I want to live quality days, every day. I want to remember to appreciate the special moments. And most importantly, I wouldn’t have to live a life where I had to be any less open, or less likely to connect with others because of a secret circumstances like everlasting life.
About TUCK EVERLASTING (from Macmillian): Blessed with—or doomed to—eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less of a blessing than it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune.
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The new 40th edition of TUCK EVERLASTING released on January 20, 2015 with a foreword from Wicked author Gregory Maguire.
Be sure to check out #Tuck40th for more tour stops!
Geek Girl (#1) by Holly Smale [twitter • website]
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: teenage modeling career, best friend drama, strong family ties
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)
Summary: Harriet Manners doesn’t fit in. She’s a geek. She can spout of random knowledge, but when it comes to standing up for herself and knowing how to talk to her peers, she’s lost. On a class trip, she’s discovered by a modeling agency, and she hopes it will change her life for the better. (But imagine the hurt since this has been her best friend’s dream since she was a small child.)
• • •
If there’s one thing Harriet knows for sure, it’s that she’s different from her classmates and she doesn’t really fit in. This becomes blatantly obvious when someone sharpies “GEEK” on her backpack. For a 15 year old girl, it sucks to stand out and be different. Harriet’s proud of her knowledge, but she just wants to know when all of bullying will end and she’ll find her place in the world.
She’s got an oddball dad, an obsessive stepmom, and an extremely loyal best friend. Well, loyal until Harriet is offered the chance of a lifetime and steals her best friend’s dreams right out from under her feet. Harriet is “discovered” in a shopping mall to become the hottest new teen couture model. Though she knows this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and her friend has every right to be mad, she’s also desperate to stop being such a dork and to have this great defining moment in her life.
Harriet is silly and smart and will make you laugh out loud. Her dad is obnoxious, bordering on goofball (as I think most 15 year olds feel their fathers are). And while stepmoms seem to not always have the best reputations, I saw this one as a shining example (though I wasn’t at first convinced of it because she can be pretty demanding). There’s friendship and loyalty, strong family ties, and incredible relatable moments that bring back memories of when there was nothing you wanted more than to fit in.
Geek Girl is definitely on the younger side of my young adult reading, but it was also kind of nice to mix it up. (I do wish some of the silly language from her modeling agent would have toned down throughout the book; his constant pet names felt excessive.) At its heart, this was a simple story about a smart teenage girl just trying to make it through, and I am really looking forward to seeing Harriet grow up a bit as the series continues on.
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The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael Miller ( web | tweet )
The Brides of Bliss County; Book 2
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Target audience: Adult romance
Keywords: friendship, old love, cowboys, small towns
Format read: ARC provided by Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Summary: Melody and Spence have a second chance if they are willing to take it.
I really like that this romance series revolves around three best friends who are looking out for each other when it comes to finding happily ever after. Some of my favorite parts of this book was when Melody was freaking out about her feelings for her first love, Spence, and sent out a call to her girls for some honesty and comfort. They were always there to provide it and make a little fun of her too. (Humor is so necessary during these rough times.)
Melody and Spence have a history. After making a fool of herself with him once long ago, she doesn’t want to risk putting herself through that a second time. But have the years between them made it possible for a second go round to be an actual possibility? That’s what these two people are trying to figure out. Sure their chemistry is oh so good but can they learn to trust each other again?
I’ve noticed a lot of romance novels can drag out these kinds of stories so I was impressed with how tightly written this one was… even with a bit of a mystery side plot thrown in. After a tough few weeks, it was so nice to lose myself in this love story between a great couple and between a lovely group of pals. (Other bonuses: three cats and it is really funny when the main character talks to herself.)
Another Miller winner and another love letter to quirky small town living! (I really want to visit a ranch.)
Add THE MARRIAGE CHARM to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N | THE MARRIAGE PACT review
Big thanks to the lovely people at Little Bird Publicity who are offering up a copy of THE MARRIAGE CHARM to one lucky U.S. reader! Good luck!
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Disneylanders by Kate Abbott ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 12, 2013
Publisher: Orchard Hill
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Disneyland, starting high school, growing up, romance
Format read: Paperback provided by author. (Thank you!)
Summary: Casey is on her annual trip to Disneyland with her parents the summer before high school. This year at her favorite place feels a little bit different after conflicts with her best friend all year, and her nervousness about starting a new school with new people. Her trip starts to look up when she meets Bert, another Disney enthusiast on vacation with his sister and grandma.
Let’s be real. Vacationing with your family is never easy. Most of the time, it’s super fun and all. But there are little fights and annoyances here and there, right? Especially when you are a teenager.
Disneylanders by Kate Abbott does such a realistic job of capturing these precious family quirks in this YA novel, I almost felt like they were pages right out of my own journal from when I was 14. My mom telling me I’m moody when I’m just trying to drive home some kind of point and make them realize I’m not a little kid anymore. Sound familar?
I didn’t like being 14 so much. I had a lot of the same insecurities as Casey. Am I dressing right? What if I don’t make new friends? Why is everyone cooler than me? Will my parents ever stop being so overprotective? And like Casey, going to a Disney theme park gave me some kind of relief every summer. Life was put on pause and I could be in my own little bubble, thinking my own little thoughts and processing the past few months without returning to the real world for awhile.
A mishap with a little girl, a Sharpie marker, and Casey’s pants introduces her to Bert, a fellow Disney fan, who is super cute, 2 years older, and really nice. Casey and Bert hit it off and decide to spend a lot of their vacation together, exploring the parks. It’s so adorable how shy she is with him but how excited she is too. (It reminded me of the first time a boy held my hand; it was also in a theme park and you would have thought it was the biggest event in the world.) Bert is sweet and totally level-headed, dealing with a bit of family drama himself. It’s nice that they have each other as sounding boards because an unbiased opinion sometimes helps you see the light.
While some of the book might sound a little young (it is early high school), I didn’t mind it so much. Abbott creates some awesome irony with Casey spending her time in a world of fantasy and being forced to deal with some not-so plesant grown up things. I really liked that. Plus, the Disney park history references didn’t hurt too much either. For those of you who aren’t Disney geeks, don’t worry. There aren’t so many that they distract from the core of the story.
Disneylanders is a charming and well-rounded story that will have you rooting for Casey, aching for a Disney trip, and feeling all sorts of magic. I can’t recommend it enough.
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When I was in elementary school, my principal kept a fishbowl outside of the main office and asked everyone in the school to anonymously nominate random acts of kindness they witnessed during the week. In the middle of each Monday assembly, she would choose one to read and that person would come up and get a certificate.
I always thought it was one of the most special parts of our school (and believe me, there were many) and when I look back on a practice like this one, I realize she wasn’t just doing it to raise morale in the beginning of a week but she was reminding us to be kind, especially when we are not concerned with anyone looking.
Our lives are busy and stressful and sometimes we forget to be courteous or do something nice for the heck of it. Who knows if we are all suffering from some kind seasonal disorder, the realization that the holidays are truly over (my tree is GONE), or maybe, just maybe, we have slowly forgotten why we take part in online communities to begin with. To connect, bond over one thing and, miraculously discover you share some deeper similarities as well. Yes, there are downsides to these relationships too. As easy as it is to make a friend, it’s almost just as easy to lose them or as easy as it is to agree, it’s just as easy to pull the trigger and say something you might not necessarily say to their face. This screen can be a blessing and a curse.
In the spirit of being the change you want to see in a community (and maybe beyond that) and realizing I’m not the only one feeling a little discouraged and down lately, I’m happy to launch this pet project with the wonderful Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner — especially as Alexa from Alexa Loves Books launches another fan year of the blogger love-a-thon. So what’s the deal? We want to hear your stories. Everyone loves the feel-good stories on the news or in magazines, so why not share your own? Since your time being involved in this community (whether super active or even as an observer), I am confident you have been surprised and touched by someone. The idea is to tell that story. It doesn’t have to be long; it doesn’t even have to be told in a standard post form. Be creative. Get inspired by these sweet moments! There is only one rule: no names, no links. This project is less about singling out a person and more about focusing on anonymous unprecedented kindness.
During the week of February 16 (in tandem with the Love-a-Thon events), Jamie and RBR will both be posting our own stories along with the opportunity for you to add a link to your story. Let’s give each other reasons to appreciate this space and our efforts, and to remind each other why we cherish and love our community so much. Maybe if we focus on it a bit now, it’ll come even more naturally throughout the year.
We’re really looking forward to this and hope you are too.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Jamie’s post on this project on Spreading Kindness and
pop over to Alexa’s blog for details on the blogger love-a-thon.
February really IS all about love, isn’t it?
Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle ( web | tweet )
Published January 6, 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: family secrets, cult, road trip, best friendship
Format read: ARC from Publisher. (Thanks!)
Summary: When Viv discovers her parents have disappeared in the Rapture, she sets off on a road trip with her best friend and a boy she just met to figure out the truth about the evangelical Church of America.
It’s not every day I pick up a book about the upcoming apocalypse, but a starred review in Publishers Weekly made me so curious and I am mighty glad I gave this book a whirl.
A possible Rapture has been threatened for awhile and no one in Vivian’s town really believes it’s going to happen until it does. After a party, Viv goes home to find two holes in her ceiling and her two parents missing. It seems all over the country loved ones have disappeared, Believers of the evangelical Church of America, and the end of the world is scheduled to arrive soon rather than later.
Before their disappearance, Vivian was continually harassed by her parents to receive her baptism and join them as Believers. They joined later in their life, and once they did, their relationship with Viv changed along with it. Vivian held out, determined to act like the best kid she could even if she wouldn’t officially become a Believer. Soon most of her close friends have converted and abandoned her. Although, the one positive, is meeting Harp, dealing with her own uber-evangelical parents, and they bond instantly.
Thank [insert name of higher power here] because the friendship between Viv and Harp is one of my favorite things about this book. In fact, I believe it’s the foundation of this story. Even though they are both so different — Harp is the more outgoing one, and Viv always following her lead — they compliment each other even in the most difficult of times. They give each other space, they pat each other on the back, and more than anything, they accept each other for who they are — warts and all. If you are facing the end of the world, I can’t imagine spending it with someone better than that.
Despite a false move on Viv’s part after the initial rapture, a road trip is organized when they realize certain strange clues are leading them to California and perhaps, some answers. Joining in is Peter, a boy Viv unsuccessfully tried to nab at a party the night before the Rapture and an “information guy” with connections to the church. Don’t worry. He’s trustworthy and an acceptable object of Viv’s affection. More than being a possible love interest, Peter proves to be a solid and understanding friend. In other words, perfect for a quest like this one.
As you can imagine, the road trip puts them in contact with many surprising (and dangerous) people and places but the most effective piece of the puzzle for me was the loneliness and not only because they had no idea who was alive and who was dead but because they were teenagers navigating this post-Rapture world alone. Viv had a lot of trouble dealing with this, and I didn’t blame her. Even though evidence was saying the adults had disappeared and many had gone off their rockers, she still believed in the authority of an adult and wanted to put her trust in them despite her history of getting burned. This parallel to growing up in general was a great one.
Despite the short page count, Coyle’s lush writing and intricate details made this book feel like an epic adventure — in a way that made me so anxious to get down to the bottom of the Church of America (clever usage of social media and consumerism that reminded me a lot of the underrated Bumped series by Megan McCafferty) and find out if Viv and her friends had the power to change their fates. The story continues in September 2015, and I’m so looking forward to it.
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